Le Havre Blu-ray Review
“Le Havre” is a sweet character driven film.
“Le Havre” centers on an aging shoeshiner (Marcel) who seems to be able to squeak by in life with the small wages he earns. Despite his income, Marcel enjoys life and enjoys being around his neighbor friends. Marcel’s daily routine is interrupted, however, when his wife ends up in the hospital. Additionally, Marcel also winds up helping out an African refugee boy (Idrissa) who is wanted by the authorities. With the help of his friends, Marcel decides to help get the boy to London where he can be reunited with his mother. Of course, Marcel has to make sure the odd inspector doesn’t catch him first.
Despite tackling a serious issue like immigration, Aki Kaurismaki’s “Le Havre” is a very light hearted and sweet movie about love and friendship. While some may complain that it feels like a fantasy film that trivializes a major political topic, I found myself charmed by the film’s optimism and heartfelt characters. In these confusing and often sad times, it’s refreshing to see a film with good hearted characters that ends on what we assume is a hopeful note.
I will side with some of the films’ critics in saying that the script is definitely not perfect. One thing that really drove me crazy was the fact that Idrissa (who is supposed to be hidden from plain sight) always winds up in plain sight. It may seem like a minor thing, but in a story about hiding a refugee, it’s fairly ridiculous. Another thing that I found puzzling was the character of Marcel. While Andre Wilms delivers a fantastic performance that is truly the heart of the film, you always feel like this character can do whatever he wants and get away with it. Throughout the entire running time, you never get the sense that Marcel will fail in his quests which makes it all a bit anti-climactic and a little too convenient for the story.
Summary: “Le Havre” is a flawed, but charming film that is worth a watch.
The film, which is presented in 1.85:1 1080p, is generally impressive. The colors and locals tend to look pretty sharp, but there are grainy and wavy image scenes that I found very un-Blu-ray like.
The French 5.1 DTS-HD audio track with English subtitles does the job. This is generally a quiet movie and as such not a ton of audio oomph is required.
* Another superb booklet featuring an essay by Michael Sicinski and Peter Von Bagh’s lengthy, in-depth interview with director Aki Kaurismaki.
* “Le Havre” trailer.
* More footage of Little Bob singing 2 songs.
* “Kati Outinen”- An episode of the TV show “Mansikkapaikka” featuring an extensive interview with “Le Havre” actress Kati Outinen.
* “Andre Wilms”- An interview with the “Le Havre” actor recorded for Criterion discs.
* “Le Havre At Cannes”- A press conference and an interview with the cast and crew from the legendary film festival.
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